Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Grave of Mary Jane (Barber) York Curiston Keller Dunlap, Stiles Cemetery, Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Michigan. Photographed by Mary Jo Buchart, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Michigan and privately held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Spokane,Washington. 2005.

Mary Jane was my father's maternal grandmother. You can see that she was married multiple times. My grandmother and her brother were not raised by their mother; when they were very young, they were kidnapped by their father, taken across Michigan and placed in Blodgett Home in Grand Rapids, from where they were each adopted by two families in Coopersville in Ottawa County. You can read more about Mary Jane's life here.

In tracing my family history and finding the birth family of my grandmother, which led to her subsequent reuniting with her mother's family, I am happy to say that she was able to visit her mother's grave here in Stiles Cemetery several years ago, before Alzheimer's took over her mind. Grandma was also able to visit her grandmother's grave--Mary Jane's mother was also named Mary Jane. I will feature Mary Jane (FREDENBURG) BARBER DARBY SMITH KELLER's grave in a future Tombstone Tuesday post.

Interestingly enough, Mary Jane DUNLAP's first husband, Howard Merkel YORK--my great-grandfather--is also buried in this cemetery, in an unmarked plot. I discovered this after finding his obituary and calling the funeral home mentioned therein. Unfortunately, there was a fire some 30 years ago in the township office, which destroyed the burial records of Stiles Cemetery, so to my knowledge, there is no way to determine where exactly Howard is buried.

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